Sports Mole previews Friday’s Ligue 1 clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Montpellier HSC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
A fifth successive win across all competitions is on offer for Paris Saint-Germain when they welcome Montpellier HSC to the Parc des Princes for Friday evening’s Ligue 1 battle.
Luis Enrique’s men staved off a late Brest fightback to defeat Les Pirates 3-2 last time out, while their visitors put three past Toulouse without reply in the Occitanie derby....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Adding a few more pounds to his value, PSG’s resident wonderkid Warren Zaire-Emery silenced the Stade Francis Le-Bre crowd with a piledriver of an opening goal last Sunday, before Kylian Mbappe’s trademark near-post finish doubled the champions’ advantage before the half-hour mark.
However, Brest – who have been one of the early-season surprise packages in the French top flight – were not giving up the ghost in front of the home crowd and remarkably levelled through Steve Mounie and Jeremy Le Douaron’s headers, only for Mbappe to convert from a rebound in the 89th minute after being thwarted by Marco Bizot from the penalty spot.
Both Bizot and Gianluigi Donnarumma earned their keep in a pulsating battle, one in which victory for PSG added to their previous successes over AC Milan, Strasbourg and Rennes, where the reigning champions scored exactly three goals on each occasion too.
Settling into life under Enrique, Les Parisiens are still being kept off of top spot in the table by Nice for the time being, but there is only one point in it – an identical gap separates PSG from third-placed Monaco – while a +14 goal difference is the best of its kind in the division.
PSG’s vulnerabilities have risen their ugly heads more often than not at the Parc des Princes in recent months, but the hosts have prevailed in each of their last four home contests without conceding a single goal, while scoring at least twice in each of their last six contests in front of their fervent supporters.
A couple of days before a meeting with their Occitanie rivals, Montpellier had been hit with severe sanctions by the LFP for a shocking incident in their abandoned clash with Clermont, where Lanciers goalkeeper Mory Diaw felt the full force of a firecracker thrown from the crowd.
As such, Michel Der Zakarian’s men welcomed Toulouse to the Stade de la Mosson one point worse off than they would have been, but they pushed their off-field distractions to one side as Nigerian hotshot Akor Adams struck twice either side of a Khalil Fayad effort in a 3-0 romping.
Already sitting on three braces for the Ligue 1 season – including two in his last three contests – Adams is filling the Elye Wahi void particularly well for La Paillade, whose record of three wins, three draws and three defeats leaves them 11th in the league rankings at present.
Montpellier’s three-goal trouncing of Toulouse marked only their second win from their last seven Ligue 1 battles, though, and only two points separates Der Zakarian’s team from Metz in the relegation playoff place, but three clean sheets in their last four matches offers La Paillade some hope of subjecting PSG to a Friday fright.
The head-to-head column makes for grim reading for those of a Montpellier persuasion, though, as PSG have got the better of their mid-table visitors in each of their last nine meetings across all tournaments, and not since a goalless draw in September 2017 have the champions failed to net more than once over the course of 90 minutes against La Paillade.
Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 form:
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
Montpellier HSC Ligue 1 form:
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PSG’s lack of defensive discipline in their five-goal thriller with Brest can partially be attributed to the absence of Marquinhos, who missed out owing to a groin injury, but the Brazilian centre-back could make a swift return to the side this weekend.
However, all of Nuno Mendes (hamstring), Marco Asensio (foot), Sergio Rico (head trauma), Presnel Kimpembe (fitness) and Keylor Navas (back) are not at Enrique’s disposal, while out-of-favour left-back Layvin Kurzawa missed out last weekend due to illness.
Marquinhos’s potential return would push makeshift centre-back Danilo Pereira down to the bench for the hosts, who could also recall the likes of Manuel Ugarte and Randal Kolo Muani to the XI despite their recent success.
Meanwhile, Montpellier head coach Der Zakarian revealed that Joris Chotard’s withdrawal in the win over Toulouse was an enforced one due to muscular pain, but the midfielder is understood to have trained normally this week and should reprise his role in the centre.
Defender Maxime Esteve should also shake off the calf cramps that prevented him from completing the full 90 in the Occitanie derby, while Becir Omeragic (foot) may have a chance of making a rapid return to the matchday squad too.
As such, only Arnaud Nordin (hamstring) could be missing from the Paillade ranks at the Parc des Princes, where Der Zakarian should see no reason to alter the XI which convincingly put Toulouse to the sword.
Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Skriniar, Hernandez; Lee, Ugarte, Zaire-Emery; Dembele, Kolo Muani, Mbappe
Montpellier HSC possible starting lineup:Lecomte; Sacko, Kouyate, Esteve, Sylla; Chotard, Ferri; Al-Tamari, Savanier, Fayad; Adams
We say: Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Montpellier HSC
Montpellier have kept their back door bolted shut more often than not in recent weeks, but over the past six years, PSG have always found a way through the Paillade backline on more than one occasion, and Friday’s encounter should be no different.
An in-form Adams is certainly capable of denying the hosts a fifth straight clean sheet at home, but Enrique’s own effervescent forwards should fire their team to the top of the table – at least temporarily – on Friday night.For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data
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Newcastle United rise to fifth with deserved win over Manchester United
Newcastle United jump to fifth in the Premier League table with a deserved 1-0 win over Manchester United at St James’ Park.
Newcastle United made it three successive wins against Manchester United in all tournaments for the first time in over 100 years with a deserved 1-0 Premier League victory over the tepid Red Devils at St James’ Park.
A succession of chances came and went for Eddie Howe’s men in the first half, but Man United’s luck ran out when Anthony Gordon fired home early in the second half to sink Erik ten Hag’s team – who were second best all afternoon – although a concerning injury to Nick Pope partially marred the Magpies’ success.
While a decimated Newcastle side put out the exact same XI from their Champions League draw with Paris Saint-Germain, a handful of changes from Ten Hag saw Anthony Martial, Kobbie Mainoo, Diogo Dalot and the returning Marcus Rashford come into the fold....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
However, Ten Hag’s alterations did little to stem the flow of a rampant Newcastle, who saw almost all of the ball in the opening stages and came close in the 18th minute through Miguel Almiron, but Andre Onana was equal to his low effort.
Alexander Isak and Jamaal Lascelles both came close in the few moments that followed; the former had a strike deflected wide by Harry Maguire before Lascelles headed over the bar, which was then shaking in the 40th minute as Kieran Trippier’s free kick landed just an inch too high.
Newcastle’s shot counter displayed a whopping 14 as the referee’s whistle blew to signal half time, but Man United’s clean sheet remained intact, mainly thanks to their hosts’ wastefulness in the final third.
Any harsh half-time words from Ten Hag clearly did not have the desired effect, as Newcastle finally made one of their many forays forward pay in the 55th minute, where Gordon gave the hosts a fully merited lead.
The sloppy Red Devils were punished for losing the ball in the defensive third, allowing Trippier to flash a low ball across the six-yard box, where Gordon was on hand to tap home at the back post.
The ex-Everton man’s opener saw him stretch his St James’ Park scoring streak to four successive Premier League matches, and Ten Hag responded by calling upon Antony and Rasmus Hojlund in place of the ineffective Martial and Rashford.
Man United’s alterations did little to spark any life into the meek visitors, who were indebted to Aaron Wan-Bissaka for making a crucial block to deny Lewis Miley in the 78th minute, but it was Fabian Schar’s turn to deny Sergio Reguilon from scoring a sensational volley with a terrific block of his own four minutes later.
As Pope dived to meet Reguilon’s blocked shot, though, the Newcastle number one injured himself and stayed down as Man United built their next attack, which was stopped in its tracks to allow the stricken Pope to receive treatment.
The Englishman was able to rise to his feet, but he was evidently struggling with his shoulder and slowly trudged off to be replaced by ex-Man United loanee Martin Dubravka.
The Newcastle number two had only been on the field a few moments before an Antony volley flew past him and into the back of the net, but Maguire – whom the ball took a nick off – was in an offside position, and the linesman’s flag came to the hosts’ rescue.
The Red Devils were granted nine minutes of additional time to try to find a leveller, but Newcastle stood firm to leapfrog their visitors into fifth spot in the table, bumping Ten Hag’s men down to seventh in the process.
Newcastle have four full days to rest up before a trip to Everton on Thursday, while Man United will return to their Old Trafford headquarters to meet Chelsea on Wednesday.
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Kobbie Mainoo ‘set to double Manchester United wages’
Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo is reportedly set to double his wages at Old Trafford on account of becoming a first-team regular for Erik ten Hag....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo is reportedly set to double his wages at Old Trafford following his first-team breakthrough.
The 18-year-old is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the Red Devils’ setup but was denied the chance to make an impression in the early stages of the 2023-24 campaign due to an ankle injury sustained in pre-season.
Mainoo took months to recover from the affliction, but the teenager has since exited the treatment room and was trusted by Erik ten Hag from the first whistle in last weekend’s 3-0 Premier League win over Everton.
Mainoo – who made his debut for the Red Devils against Charlton Athletic in a January EFL Cup clash – received high praise for a performance well beyond his years and was then brought off the bench for his Champions League debut against Galatasaray a few days later.
Sofyan Amrabat was given the nod in Europe instead of Mainoo, but the Fiorentina loanee was overlooked for the youngster in Saturday’s trip to Newcastle United, where the Red Devils fell to a 1-0 defeat.
Amid Man United’s indifferent form on the field and protracted takeover saga, Mainoo has been a shining light for the 20-time English champions, and his rapid rise is now set to be rewarded.
According to the Daily Star, Mainoo is currently on a modest £10,000 per week at the Theatre of Dreams, but his salary will soon double to £20,000 per week owing to a clause in his contract.
Back in February, the Red Devils tied the 2005-born lynchpin down to a new long-term deal until the end of the 2026-27 campaign, with the option of an additional 12 months.
Rather than Man United agreeing another fresh deal with Mainoo, the midfielder’s existing terms apparently include a clause stipulating that his wages will double in size once he becomes a first-team regular.
The report adds that Mainoo’s salary increase has not been triggered just yet, but he is “close” to taking home an extra £10,000 per week, and he would already be on a higher wage had he not spent a couple of months in the treatment room.
The 18-year-old – who has been with the club since the age of nine – completed 80 minutes of Saturday’s showdown with Newcastle, which was his sixth first-team appearance for the Red Devils.
However, Mainoo and his Man United teammates were run ragged by Newcastle, who deservedly picked up a 1-0 win in freezing temperatures thanks to a second-half Anthony Gordon goal.
Having also been beaten by the Magpies in this year’s EFL Cup and a 2-0 loss at St James’ Park in the 2022-23 Premier League, Man United have now suffered three successive defeats to Newcastle in all competitions for the first time since January 1922.
The Red Devils’ sixth league loss of the season has bumped them down to seventh place in the Premier League table, and the visit of Chelsea to Old Trafford is next up for Ten Hag’s troops on Wednesday.
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Xavi reveals he wanted to sign Alvaro Morata for Barcelona
Barcelona head coach Xavi reveals that he was keen on bringing Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata to Camp Nou....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Barcelona head coach Xavi has revealed that he was keen on bringing Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata to Camp Nou.
For the past one-and-a-half seasons, the Blaugrana line has been led by Robert Lewandowski, who topped the La Liga scoring charts with 23 strikes en route to the top-flight title last season.
The former Bayern Munich man has already managed a respectable seven goals in the current top-flight campaign, although four players have netted more, including 11-goal leader Jude Bellingham of Real Madrid.
With a total of 27 strikes from 14 matches so far, Barcelona are the lowest scorers inside the top five of the La Liga table and have a seven-point gap to make up to Real Madrid and Girona.
Xavi’s side did strengthen their attack over the summer with the loan capture of Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, while Raphinha, Ferran Torres and 16-year-old Lamine Yamal are alternative options in the final third.
However, Lewandowski is the only out-and-out senior centre-forward at the club, and speaking to reporters at a recent press conference, Xavi revealed that conversations were held with Morata.
The Barca boss waxed lyrical about Morata’s individual qualities and “world-class” connection with Antoine Griezmann, but he conceded that a summer transfer was not feasible.
“It’s true that I wanted to sign him. There was that possibility. I was talking to him and I wanted him in the team, but it couldn’t happen,” Goal quotes Xavi as saying.
“He’s a forward that I really like. Morata is a great forward. He is a generous footballer, who works a lot for the team, he works a lot.
“He goes very well into spaces and helps his teams a lot. I really like him a lot. With him and with [Antoine] Griezmann, Atletico has a world-class forward line.”
The well-travelled Morata has struggled to settle at various clubs throughout his career, enduring mixed spells with Real Madrid and Chelsea, who sent him on loan to Atletico for 18 months in 2019.
The 31-year-old’s switch to Wanda Metropolitano was made permanent for £30m that same summer, but he was loaned back out to Juventus for two years and missed the majority of Atletico’s 2020-21 La Liga title triumph.
However, Morata amassed a respectable 15 goals in all tournaments for Diego Simeone’s team last season and has begun the 2023-24 campaign strongly with 12 goals and three assists from 17 matches.
The Spain international has come up with a joint-high five goals in this season’s Champions League, level with Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and Manchester United’s Rasmus Hojlund, and his total for Atletico now stands at 49 goals and 12 assists from 123 games.
Morata’s contract with Atletico runs until the summer of 2026, and the striker will pit his wits against Barcelona in Sunday’s blockbuster La Liga clash at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.
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